If Doug Busch had his way then we’d all be living off the grid. Does that mean giving up your cell phone or deleting your Facebook account? No, it means that you are generating your own electricity, and not pulling energy from the electrical grid — the actual grid that powers the community. Doug believes that we all need to be educated in sustainable living practices, and that such practices are available to all economic and social classes. He knows it can be done and has plans to make it happen.
Doug plots and plans his grid-less takeover while sitting in one of the nicest houses in Los Angeles — it’s located just north of Malibu at the top of Trancas Canyon. His home literally sits at the top of the hill, and is an example of sustainable, ecologically conscious living. As well, it’s a truly beautiful mansion, fit to host royalty. The home is not just aesthetically pleasing but it’s über green. It uses passive solar design, which is based on using the energy of the sun to heat and cool living spaces. Doug has computerized controls — the same system that is used in the White House — to control the energy in each living space to make sure that it’s utilized for maximum energy efficiency. The system lowers window shades to protect during the hottest part of the day and opens windows to let in the cooler temperatures of the evening. Solar panels run along the south side, and there are even solar-trapping energy grids on the driveway that heat the stunning 110,000-gallon salt-water swimming pool. It’s the third largest private pool in Los Angeles. The home has a water distillation system and also a system that traps rainwater to provide irrigation to the numerous varieties of drought resistant plants that landscape the property. On the roof there’s an infinity pool where you can relax while you look at the sun setting over the ocean. At ground level there’s a koi and turtle area that allows for peaceful contemplation.
Doug’s latest project is Eco-Systems which rose out of “sustainable community” projects. This is a global network of leaders from business, government, social services, non-profits and civic groups engaged in creating models for economic, social, and ecological sustainability in our communities. It is in partnership with ecoTECH Design Studio, under the direction of Doug along with his cadre of LEED-certified architects and engineers and technology experts.
This group is also involved in a local project with Volunteers of America, who have a 20-acre housing project in North Hollywood. There are 474 low-income housing units on it. Doug’s team has proposed to redo all units to become energy sustainable, and to add 150 new units for teachers, artists, and people who are committed to the community. Of the 150 units, 50 will be for foster care children leaving the system. These older children will also be given jobs with artists or they will work on community-based improvement projects. The project also includes planning organic farms, day care, classes on sustainability and other helpful programs to spread knowledge and practical skills associated with sustainability. There will also be a time bank used to trade time for work, services, and the like. The streets will be removed to provide green space, gathering areas, recreational areas and farming. They will be removing 1200 cars from the streets (thus no need for the streets) and putting them in the newest computer controlled parking towers.
All units will feature the same set of green technologies and design features as Doug’s fancy house on his hill — 200% above LEED, and at a fraction of the cost of integrating the same technologies on a project-by-project (custom design) basis. All components will be sourced from best-in-class suppliers, including ecoTECH and partner technologies. Standard components for any modular unit will include:
• Green building design for maximum energy and water conservation
• Solar energy
• Solar tubes for hot water
• Zero carb heating and cooling
• Greywater re-use and water capture systems
• Building Biology enhanced designs for enhanced air quality and reduced man-made electrical radiations
• Green roofs, walls, landscape designs (options)
• Natural materials
Doug plans to spread the gospel of living sustainably and is reaching out globally as well: his next stop is Malaysia.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Doug is also an artist, an incredible photographer who got his start working with Ansel Adams. He uses black and white to capture landscapes and images of bodies of water. His work has been exhibited all over the world; he has collections in some of the best museums around including The Getty, LACMA, and the Smithsonian in Washington DC. Doug’s work has been published in several photography books and his work is a frequent subject of photography magazines. In the 1990s Doug branched out into architectural design, and had many successes in his remodel of several of the houses of Los Angeles’s elite West Side community. He has also completed work throughout Malibu, the Palisades, Brentwood and Santa Monica.
Based on Doug’s history of success we are confident that this talented and committed man will make spectacular strides in bringing his environmentally responsible way of living to us all — and in doing so he will help honor the Earth, and help us do the same. Congratulations on your crucial and valuable work, Doug.